On February 8, ARISE Australia’s fourth three-month session began enthusiastically here in Kingscliff, Australia with students from all around the world. Norway, Germany, Finland, the United States, Canada, and South Africa, in addition to Australia of course, are all represented!
I’ve been doing this for fifteen years now, ever since Pastor Nathan Renner and I co-founded ARISE in partnership with the Michigan Conference. We were super enthusiastic for our first-ever class, and that enthusiasm for training, discipleship, and teaching remains absolutely undiminished.
One of the quotations that really stoked our fire in those early days was this: “With such an army of workers as our youth, rightly trained, might furnish, how soon the message of a crucified, risen, and soon-coming Savior might be carried to the whole world! How soon might the end come—the end of suffering and sorrow and sin!” (Education, p. 271).
Let’s be honest, the size of the evangelistic enterprise before us can be absolutely overwhelming.
Here at Light Bearers, our passion for training and discipleship grows deeper and stronger every year. We sincerely hope you share that passion. It was, after all, the passion of Jesus Christ while He walked the earth!
Let’s be honest, the size of the evangelistic enterprise before us can be absolutely overwhelming. Like you, probably, I cannot conceive of what the number seven billion actually means. Sure, I can write it out, but I do not understand it. Jesus might have been similarly overwhelmed with the size of the evangelistic task before Him. But what did He do in the face of such a confronting and confounding challenge?
He did the unexpected.
He called 12 Israelites to be taught, trained, and discipled.
Not 1200. Not 12,000. And not 12,000,000. Just 12.
“Then He appointed twelve, that they might be with Him and that He might send them out to preach” (Mark 3:14). The secret is found in this simple, easy-to-miss phrase: “that they might be with Him.” The early church, not many years later, would effectively turn the Greco-Roman world upside down. The book of Acts tells the first part of this world-changing story, and no verse in Acts is more significant than this one: “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13). Note that carefully: “they realized that they had been with Jesus.”
The plan had worked! And marvelously at that!
All along, Jesus’ plan was simple: surround Himself with a small group (hey, aren’t we hearing a lot about “small groups” nowadays?) of sincere followers who could be grown and nurtured into mighty men of God. When they were first called—fisherman, tax collectors, and ordinary folk—they scarcely seemed like world changers. And yet, here we are 2000 years later basking in the glory and grandeur of the work God accomplished through them by His Spirit.
The key to their power could be summarized in that simple word: with. In fact, this word is at the very core of Jesus’ ministry and incarnation. “‘Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,’ which is translated, ‘God with us’” (Matthew 1:23).
ARISE is a place to be uniquely and uninterruptedly with Jesus.
God with us! There’s the “secret” right there. It was Jesus’ secret, the disciples’ secret, and the early church’s secret.
And it is our secret at the ARISE program!
Many have asked about the success of the ARISE program over the years. How have we managed to stay the course year after year? How have we been able to create a program that has been instrumental in changing and equipping hundreds of lives for a life of ministry? Many might suppose it’s the list of extraordinary instructors, trainers, and staff we have. Many might suppose it’s the dynamic teaching, the stunning campuses, the powerful outreach ministries, or the amazing fellowship.
These all play a role, but the real power is found in something more simple and ancient: ARISE is a place to be uniquely and uninterruptedly with Jesus. And that’s where the real power is found—in Him.
This year, ARISE Australia boasts nearly three times Jesus’ original number of 12, and we think that’s a good thing. We’d love to see even more attend. Hundreds, thousands, millions . . .
But we always come back to the 12 and to their secret. They were “with Jesus.” And that’s what we want for our students. Simple, yet, powerful.
Twelve isn’t many, but it’s enough.
At least Jesus thought so.